The Alan Woods Collection

An exhibition selected from the Alan Woods Bequest (with additional works and published writings by Alan Woods), curated by some of Alan's colleagues in Duncan of Jordanstone College.

detail of poster for Alan Woods Collection exhibition featuring artwork by Alan Woods

Detail from 'untitled' by Alan Woods, 1993

The Alan Woods Bequest is part of the University Museum Collections.

The Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College, University of Dundee
05 October - 17 November 2001

The exhibition is open Monday-Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday 11am-5pm

Admission Free

The Exhibition

Alan Woods collected with discrimination. The selection presented in this exhibition is a memorial to him but it also points forward, activating the life which the collection now has beyond his. The exhibition is comprised of three sections. First (and largest) is the selection of fifty-five works from the Bequest, plus smaller works in display cases. Secondly there are seven works by Alan Woods himself, and lastly there is a representative selection of publications that he either wrote or contributed to. The exhibition is displayed (generally) in 'clusters' of related work, to help clarify the various dimensions of Alan's interests. There is a group of six wall-mounted box constructions, three by Fred Stiven and three by Mat Fahrenholz, in contrasting styles.

Alan was deeply interested in the uses of text in art. He admired the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay, five of whose prints (with a work by Tom Phillips) form a group of text works. Close to these are two prints by R B Kitaj. Abstractions comprise a large element in the exhibition, shown in a formalist group (works by David Conneam, Callum Innes and Graeme Little) and in a group of less formal, more painterly abstractions, such as those by Moyna Flanagan, David Armitage and Ralph Rumney. The figurative works in the collection also suggest his appreciation of different styles, from the architectural towers of lan Howard and the 'technical drawing' of Stefan Wewerka, to the expressive works of Graeme Todd, David Davies, John Bellany and Will Maclean. The exhibition includes smaller works on paper and artists' publications in showcases.


'Hand' by Edward Summerton, 1994

Alan Woods as an Artist

Alan Woods worked in two main forms, collage and text. Many of Alan's early collages were assembled from magazine images and serendipitous pieces of 'telling ephemera'. Latterly he developed a quasi-formal style of collage structured by orange or silver squares of thin paper, with images and texts added. Several of his works were purely textual, which offered him opportunities for incisive conceptualisation and wit. In The Launching of the Argo, for example, each letter is progressively changed, like the Argo itself in which every timber was gradually replaced, so that the phrase, while remaining itself, is transformed into something new.

Alan Woods as a Writer

Alan Woods' first major publication was Being Naked Playing Dead - the Art of Peter Greenaway (Manchester 1996), a study which treats Greenaway's cinema in the context of visual art and art history (Greenaway considered it the best critique of his work). Not long before his death he completed The Map is Not the Territory, on the work of his friend Ralph Rumney, published posthumously by Manchester in 2000. He also contributed significant essays to publications on David Hockney and R B Kitaj. Alan wrote many exhibition catalogues for (among others), Howard Hodgkin, David Armitage, lan Howard and Jim Pattison. He contributed essays and reviews to the Cambridge Quarterly and other journals, and for several years wrote reviews for The Herald. As editor of Transcript he conducted interviews with many contemporary artists, including Joel Peter Witkin, Howard Hodgkin, Susan Hiller, Tatsuo Miyajima and Fiona Banner.


Text by Euan McArthur, School of Fine Art

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